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With 9 Days Left In Office, Democrats Aim To Impeach Trump

TONYA MOSLEY, HOST:

House Democrats are moving forward with a plan to impeach President Trump for a second time. The president has just nine days left in office, and Democrats say, this week, they plan to file an impeachment resolution. This follows Trump's incitement of his supporters last Wednesday, hundreds of whom descended on the U.S. Capitol. The violent scene left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. And NPR congressional correspondent Kelsey Snell is here with us this morning with the latest. Hey, Kelsey.

KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Good morning.

MOSLEY: How will this impeachment proceeding work?

SNELL: Well, it will start today when Democrats plan to bring up a resolution that would call on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. Democrats will try to pass that unanimously, but Republicans could and probably will block it with just one objection. After that, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is basically giving Pence 24 hours, a kind of ultimatum, to decide if he's going to invoke the 25th Amendment. If he doesn't, she plans to bring the process, you know, to a hold - bring together the process to hold a vote on impeachment, which could happen as early as Wednesday. Now, on the question of impeachment, it's currently just one article referring to incitement to insurrection. It's based on Trump's address to the crowd before the riots began and his attempts to overturn the election in 2020. More than 200 Democrats have signed on, and I'm told that they expect some Republicans will support it, too. You know, Democrats are pretty unified in saying what happened at the Capitol cannot be swept under the rug. They say Trump can't be allowed to simply leave office without any consequences. And they want to make sure that the Senate has the opportunity to vote to convict so that it can bar Trump from holding future federal office.

MOSLEY: OK, Kelsey, this actually brings me to the question of Republicans. We heard a few of them say over the last few days they want Trump out of office. How widespread is that feeling within the GOP?

SNELL: You know, some of that is kind of hard to gauge because most of them have been quiet. We know that Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski was the first to say that Trump should resign, but she's been joined by retiring Senator Pat Toomey. He was asked about this yesterday on CNN.

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PAT TOOMEY: I think at this point, with just a few days left, it's the best path forward.

SNELL: Now, there are a few others that agree, but some others, like Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, who is part of Republican leadership, says he basically wants Trump to be quiet for 10 days and just leave. You know, House Republican leaders have also mostly been silent, except for Liz Cheney, who has often broken with the rest of House Republican leadership when it comes to Trump.

MOSLEY: OK. This process the House wants to do is really quick, but there's still the Senate.

SNELL: Right. And, you know, that is really the wild card here because Republicans will control the Senate until the Georgia elections are certified and then the Senate has to meet and do some required organizing work. So that means that Mitch McConnell would control the timing. And the Senate is out of session. So what would need to happen is they would have to bring them back into session. They would start a trial basically around Inauguration Day. Once an impeachment trial is triggered in the Senate, it stops everything else from happening. It forces senators to come to the Senate floor, sit down six days a week until the trial concludes, and that could take weeks. House Minority Whip Jim Clyburn floated a proposal that he says could solve it. Here he is yesterday on CNN.

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JIM CLYBURN: Let's give President-elect Biden the 100 days he needs to get his agenda off and running. And maybe we'll send the articles sometimes after that.

SNELL: A hundred days is a really long time. And that could be well after Trump leaves office. And, you know, Democrats want to proceed for all the reasons I've mentioned before. But this creates a really complicating political moment for Biden as he tries to, you know, move forward and move the country ahead.

MOSLEY: And this is all happening - I have 30 seconds with you - as we prepare for Joe Biden's inauguration. What are the concerns about safety?

SNELL: Yeah, there are still concerns. The Capitol is a little bit like a fortress right now with fences and National Guard troops. And there's a process of a review right now. But there are serious concerns about whether or not the Capitol will be fully safe for the Biden administration. We're told that there are really efforts right now trying to beef up security and take every precaution possible.

MOSLEY: NPR congressional correspondent Kelsey Snell, thank you.

SNELL: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.